Archive for the ‘global leadership’ Category

ASTD Survey: 40% of Global Team Underperform

May 25, 2010 1 comment

NEW YORK, NY – May 24, 2010 – According to a study released today, 80% of corporate managers work  virtually at least part of the time and 63% are members of global virtual teams. The key factors that impair productivity are: cultural differences, communication styles, time-zone differences, language and a lack of face-to-face contact, according to the Virtual Teams Survey Report 2010 – The Challenges of Working in Virtual Teams, conducted by RW3 CultureWizard, an intercultural training consultancy specializing in online intercultural training for global business managers.

Get the report from ASTD.

Posted by Kristin


How to Navigate Cultural Differences

March 10, 2009 1 comment

By: Emily Stevens

When running a kickoff meeting, it’s important to get down to business immediately, right? And when you complete that project, isn’t it great to take the team out to a nice steakhouse, and maybe even (in better economic times) buy them a round of drinks?

Or is it?

In some cultures, jumping right into a meeting without taking the time to know something about one another is considered rude and counterproductive. And what you think is a reward (steak and a martini) might create an awkward moment for a team member who is vegetarian or who doesn’t drink, for religious or other reasons. Clearly, it’s important to be aware of the friction points which can arise in a diverse workplace. You may be traveling the globe, or may simply have people from various cultures and backgrounds to work with here at home. Either way, here are some key distinctions to consider:

Tradition versus change: Here in the U.S. we tend to assume that we should “embrace change”. However, in other cultures there may be less willingness to assume that all change is positive. Be willing to spend time justifying change, and know that customers’ or employees’ objections and fears will help you better identify risk areas and mitigate them. Your change initiative can benefit from listening to those who are concerned.

Relationships: Do you get to know people before working with them, or is working together the means to know one another? Different cultures have different views. A good rule of thumb is to always take a few minutes at the beginning of a meeting to introduce people and orient them to each other. Even an established team can have fun with a few icebreakers which help them learn new things about one another.

Time: Is a culture punctual or casual about time? We are mostly a punctual society. If you have an employee who is less than punctual, the issue may be more cultural than attitudinal, so be friendly and fair, but firm about the need to be at work on time. That said, many workplaces today have less emphasis on being punctual, and more emphasis on simply being available, such as by Blackberry. Define your expectations and communicate them clearly.

Formality: Cultures are very different in how they approach formality in a relationship. To be safe, always start formally and become more casual as you build a relationship. Be careful about names, how quickly you go from a formal last-name-only greeting to first names. Also, be sensitive to physical distance, eye contact, and whether a friendly touch on the arm or pat on the back would be welcome or not. And, in any culture, never pat a pregnant woman’s stomach. Just don’t. There are other ways to communicate your support, congratulations and good wishes.

Communications: You can communicate very directly, meaning you are candid even to the point of not considering your listener’s feelings. The advantage of direct communications is that they are efficient and leave no room for doubt. Indirect communications may be more focused on allowing the listener to save face but may be less clearly understood. The best practice is to structure your message carefully and deliver negative messages privately.
Rewards and Recognition: Give a lot of thought to the rewards you bring into the workplace. There’s nothing wrong with checking with people on their preferred rewards—and what they ask for may actually be easier and cheaper than what you were planning. Food, after-hours celebrations, and even public recognition may be less rewarding than you think.

One final thought: how are you setting up meetings, if you have participants across the globe? Consider the effect on those in other time zones, and balance how frequently you ask them to accommodate early or late calls. And, it’s always nice to ask about holidays when setting up a meeting schedule. You don’t have to know every holiday in every country or religion, but you can be respectful of holidays as an issue.

Diversity in your workplace can be a great source of innovation and learning for your organization. Respect is the key word: it’s what makes the difference between conflict and synergy.

Developing Global Leadership Abilities

January 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Did you know that that 70% of global business ventures worldwide fail due to mismanagement of cultural differences? While our company quickly grows and continues to expand into various countries and cultures, its vital that global leadership is developed throughout the organization.

Eileen Wibbeke, creator of the GeoLeadership Model, states that in addition to extraordinary business leadership skills, a leader now needs cultural intelligence.

Wibbeke explains, “Learning how to interact in other cultures takes effort beyond just learning another culture’s language. For the American business leader operating in another culture, interaction requires a deeper cultural understanding about how things are done.” Read more.